ELCA NEWS SERVICE
October 25, 2011
ELCA members respond to record-level rainfall in Central America
CHICAGO (ELCA) - Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are responding to record-level rainfall in Central America that has caused flooding and mudslides in rural and urban areas. Through ELCA Disaster Response, $23,000 has been allocated for Lutheran companion churches in Guatemala and Nicaragua to address immediate humanitarian needs. The ELCA is also working with Lutheran companion churches and local partners in El Salvador and Honduras, as damage assessments continue across the entire region.
A tropical storm depression that began Oct. 10 produced heavy rainfall, primarily along the Pacific Coast of Central America. More than 90 people have died and hundreds of thousands of people are displaced from their homes and living in emergency shelters.
The rains have also affected the current harvest season. It is expected that the loss of crops will yield a shortage of seeds for the 2012 planting season.
ELCA churchwide and synod staff and ELCA missionary personnel, along with colleagues from Lutheran companion churches across Central America, The Lutheran World Federation and ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together) are working together to share information, assess needs and garner resources to support disaster response efforts.
Stephen Deal, ELCA regional representative for Central America, said the country most impacted is El Salvador. He reported that the amount of rainfall for the past 10 days is 140 percent more than Hurricane Mitch, which struck El Salvador and other Central American countries in 1998.
Deal said the small size of El Salvador has made it possible for the Salvadoran Lutheran Church (Iglesia Luterana Salvadoreña) and local partners to reach affected communities and conduct initial assessments. This is enabling partners to respond to 1,100 families living along the coastline.
In Guatemala, 35 people have died as a result of the rain. More than 478,000 people have experienced material losses, including 59,121 people who are homeless.
Both Guatemala and Nicaragua have been declared states of "national calamity." While Honduras has been the least affected, there is concern regarding shelter for people who have been evacuated, according to Deal.
On Oct. 25, the Rev. Daniel Rift, director for ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal, alerted ELCA congregations and synods about the situation in Central America, requesting their support. Made possible by gifts to ELCA Disaster Response, people displaced by the floods are receiving clean water, food and shelter.
Financial gifts to the ELCA Disaster Response, designated as "Central American Flooding," will be used 100 percent to support disaster response efforts in Central America for the immediate and long-term. Donate now by clicking here.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with 4.2 million members in 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com